The Activist

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Perry
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The Activist

Post by Perry » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:03 am

When the sun has fallen, and the air is still,
and all my angry letters have been written,
and there is no immediate need to pursue
the salvation of the Earth at this moment,

then can I pause to wonder when it was
that the world came crashing on my shoulders,
and why it is that I cannot shake it off.
Perhaps it is a symptom of our age:

Every crisis is known to every ear;
injustices pile like rocks on our minds;
the spirit turns rigid with worry and fear.
With so much pain coming and coming,

all that was left for me to do was to act.
That helped to make the pain fade, but I alone
cannot hold back the tide with a child’s pail.
I am tired. I miss the life I had.

I want to worry about just myself.
The world is drowning and needs help—but like
complacent bathers on a beach, we see
the unfolding tragedy and look away.

Someone else will have to care today.
Perhaps I have time for one more letter ...

-end-

I've tried to achieve a somewhat ponderous, mellifluous cadence in the poem, but parts are still choppy. Every line should have five stresses, but some have four.

"child's pail" was "tablespoon" in an earlier draft. Any small item for scooping would do.
Last edited by Perry on Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:45 am, edited 3 times in total.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Activist

Post by bjondon » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:11 pm

Another strong poem Perry. Excellent pacing and volte faces of emotion.
The one false note to me was S5 … I think the thread back to the child's pail doesn't really work and I would imagine most people on a beach witnessing some sort of tragedy would be galvanised to act or at least stare in horror, not look away.
The emotion/argument is good and well placed but you just need something more effective.
Regards, Jules

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Re: The Activist

Post by Poet » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:24 pm

I like it but it's a bit of a ramble here and there. Maybe revise it a bit and see if there is anything that needs to be replaced.

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Re: The Activist

Post by Perry » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:56 pm

I think you are right, Jules. The world isn't as jaded as I make it out to be. At the least, people would run to get a lifeguard, and some would actually try to save the swimmer. But environmental problems are more difficult, and people do look away from those. That doesn't change the fact that my metaphor doesn't work.

You are also right, Poet. The syntax of the poem is too choppy, as is the meter. I need to smooth out the language.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Perry
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Re: The Activist

Post by Perry » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:43 am

So this poem doesn't work for anyone else? No other thoughts? I know I'm not the only one here who is concerned about the world.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Activist

Post by David » Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:48 pm

Sometimes a poem just doesn't engender as much interest as we expect, Perry - or as much as we think it deserves. We've all experienced that. You just have to let it go, gracefully. Or do I mean graciously? I'm not sure.

David

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Re: The Activist

Post by Perry » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:38 pm

OR ... I can do what I did, which is to ask for more critiques before it drops off the page.

In the time it took you to say that, you could have offered a critique.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Activist

Post by David » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:46 pm

I can only repeat my previous comment.

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Re: The Activist

Post by Pauline » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:21 pm

Hey Perry.
I like this.
I feel it would be better if you kept it in first person throughout.
I'm shite at critique as I can't explain what I mean so if you don't mind I juggled your words to make it sit comfortably with me.
Hey, take or toss my suggestions.
I won't be offended.
Like I said. Simply a suggestion.



When the sun has fallen, the air is still
and my angry letters have been written
I can then pause to wonder when it was
that the world came and crashed on my shoulders.

Why it is that I cannot shake it off?
There’s no immediate need to pursue
the salvation of the Earth at this moment.
Perhaps it is a symptom of my age.

Every crisis is known to every ear.
Injustice piles like rocks in my mind.
My spirit, rigid with worry and fear
with so much pain coming and coming

all that is left for me to do is act.
It helps to fade the pain but I alone
cannot hold back the tide with a child’s pail.
I’m tired. The world’s drowning and needs help.

I’m a complacent bather on a beach
watching a tragedy unfold, looking
away. I want to worry about myself.
Someone else will have to care today.

Perhaps I have time for one more letter ...

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Perry
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Re: The Activist

Post by Perry » Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:24 am

Pauline, your rewrite is VERY interesting. Usually rewrites strike me as completely wrong, but in your case, I think you have improved the poem. You've kept intact the essential nature of the poem. You've given me a lot to think about.

I don't know why I'm having so much trouble with this poem. Usually my poems come out on a wave of inspiration, but I kind of forced this one out because I was tired of waiting for the next inspiration to hit. It's one of those poems which almost works, but not quite. You seem to understand what I was trying to do in it.

In case you are interested, I am trying to force myself to be more of an environmental activist -- but I don't want to be an activist. Where I live in the U.S. (the state of Rhode Island), there is only about 20% compliance with the recycling law (if that). The state mandates that we recycle, but leaves it up to the towns to enforce the law; but the town councillors in every town do almost no enforcement because they don't want to lose votes in the next election. In fact, from this situation, I've learned that there is corruption in government at every level, even the lowest level. (Not enforcing the law because you don't want to lose votes in the next election is a form of corruption, no?) A similar situation exists in many states, so very little recycling is being done in the U.S. -- and every landfill is gradually turning into a Superfund site which will eventually have to be cleaned up by the federal government.

In my case, I don't want to spend the last ten years of my life waging a war against my local governments. I wrote this poem in an attempt to imagine what that would feel like.

Thank you so much for your thoughts. I'll keep working on the poem.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Activist

Post by Firebird » Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:07 pm

Pauline’s rewrite is a huge improvement IMO. I’d grab it Perry and run for the hills :D .

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: The Activist

Post by Perry » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:40 pm

I thought this was a great poem, but I guess it wasn't so good.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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